October 16 | Derrida and the Hauntology of Media | New York University

Artifactualities: Derrida and the Hauntology of Media

Thursday October 16, 2014 | 4:00-8:00 PM

239 Greene Street, NY 10003, 8th floor | New York University 

Hosted by the NYU Department of Media, Culture, and Communication; and the NYU Department of English


Everything Burns (Tout Brûle)

Gil Anidjar, Professor, Department of Religion, Columbia University

What kind of an event, what kind of machine, is the Holocaust? What figure, what medium is ash or before it fire? What are these for Derrida? Among the “controversies” surrounding Derrida and deconstruction (“media”), and for overdetermined reasons, few have matched the contradictory intensity of Nazism and the Holocaust. Is deconstruction a “Jewish science” emerging out of post-Holocaust concerns (ashes), or is it a “left Heideggerianism” all too forgiving of Nazi proclivities (“Spirit in Flame”)? What kinds of questions are these? What archive burns through them? What remains? What remains of Derrida’s Holocaust?

Shibboleth:  Policing by Ear and Forensic Listening in Projects by Laurence Abu Hamdan

Emily, Apter, Professor, Professor, Department of French, Comparative Literature, NYU

The Jordanian artist Laurence Abu Hamdan engages the politics of the broken “oral contract.”  In projects that investigate the juridical uses of “forensic listening,” he activates the concept of “shibboleth” so important to Derrida in his analysis of the poetry of Paul Celan. Shibboleths are select words whose pronunciation gives away the identity of a person or group. Consisting of inflections, catchwords, expressions, or marks of dialect, they become serviceable as aural biopolitical signatures as well as examples of what the French philosopher Grégoire Chamayou refers to as predatory, “cynegetic” power. Drawing on Derrida’s writings on shibboleth and technologies of the ear, this paper will consider cases in which targeted populations – migrants, the unemployed, political suspects, the racially profiled – have their language subjected to forensic analysis to authenticate their claims to asylum or the right to safe passage across checkpoints.



Geoffrey Bennington, Professor of Modern French Thought, Emory University

“Archivio” explores the relationship between what Derrida calls “archiviolence” in Of Grammatology and what he calls the “archiviolithic” in Archive Fever. With particular attention to the proper names Freud and Foucault, I suggest that Derrida’s thinking in this respect calls for a quite radical revision of dominant ways of thinking about archives, libraries, and the discipline of intellectual history.


Juliet Fleming, Associate Professor, Department of English, NYU

Late in his career Derrida began to worry an issue that does not appear as such in Grammatology, but without which there could be no complete theory of writing. The issue can be phrased as a question: when it comes to writing where is (and what is meant by) on? This talk will track Derrida’s unresolved pursuit of this question and demonstrate its consequence within a field — bibliography – that has largely forgotten that biblion originally meant not ‘book’ or ‘work’ but a support for writing.

Faces and Frames of Government: Aenigma, Imago, Lex

Peter Goodrich, Professor of Law, Director, Program in Law and Humanities, Cardozo School of Law

Returning to 1968, annus mirabilis, this divagation draws one of its scintilla from Of Grammatology and the latent theme of a generalized writing. Attaching myself to the contropiano where the letter becomes an image, the syllable a figure I will hint, by means of a history of common law effigies, at the fate of Monsieur Deconstruction in partibus infidelium, in the anglophone world.

Panel Discussion:  Derrida’s Desistance, Inherence, and Inheritance

Gil Anidjar, Emily Apter, Geoffrey Bennington, Allen Feldman, Juliet Fleming, Alex Galloway, Peter Goodrich, Ben Kafka


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s